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Drought and Europe: Nearly Worst Since 2003

Aug 24, 2015 03:54 PM EDT
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A severe drought throughout June and July 2015 has greatly affected much of the European continent, and is considered to be one of the worst since the summer of 2003.

According to the latest report by the European Commission's European Drought Observatory (EDO), this drought particularly affects France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, northern Italy and northern Spain. Satellite imagery and modeling revealed that prolonged rain shortages since April, paired with some record-high regional temperatures, are causing extreme drought conditions. By June, soil moisture content and vegetation conditions were already experiencing impacts.

In the entire Mediterranean region, particularly in Spain, the current heat wave has lasted even longer than the 2003 heat wave did. Under these conditions, maximum daily temperatures were consistently above 86 degrees Fahrenheit for durations of 30 to 35 days, and for Spain, temperatures at that level lasted even more than 40 days.

Tourism, viticulture and solar energy are booming as a result of this unusual drought, while many environmental and production sectors are suffering due to water restrictions, agricultural losses, disruptions to inland water transport, increased wildfires, threats to forestry, energy production, and human health, according to the release.

To offset the impacts of this drought, rainfall is needed. Current seasonal weather forecasters predict more abundant rains for the Mediterranean region in September, but foresee no effective improvement for areas in the western, central and eastern parts of Europe.

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